The Scottish Government have just passed a new law in Scotland called the Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2014. This law says there should be a new organisation in Scotland called the National Confidential Forum. People call this the NCF. The NCF is for people who lived in care homes, hospitals or other places when they were children. They will be able to tell the forum about what happened to them when they lived in these places.
People who go to the NCF can talk about good and bad experiences. When people talk to the NCF about what happened to them in care they will be believed. The Scottish government say that talking to the NCF will help people to feel better. They also want to understand what happened to people in care so that they can make sure we learn lessons from the past. Lots of people with learning disabilities spent time in care when they were children.
A lot of children with learning disabilities were sent to long stay learning disability hospitals. The Scottish Government asked the Scottish Consortium for Learning Disabilities to do some research with people with learning disabilities to find out how to make sure the NCF includes people with learning disabilities.
How did we do it? We thought this would be a difficult piece of work to do for two reasons. First, we thought it might be upsetting for people with learning disabilities to think about things that happened in the past. Second because the NCF is a difficult idea to understand for lots of people. To help us do this work we developed 3 Talking Mats™. This was to help us ask people questions about the NCF in an accessible way.
What did we find out? People with learning disabilities think the NCF is a good idea. People with learning disabilities would talk to the NCF to make sure that we learn lessons from the past.
Lots of people with learning disabilities were sent to long stay learning disability hospitals when they were children. When we were writing our report about this we found out that not much has been written about this.
What are we going to do next? We said that the Scottish Government needs to find out more about what happened to children with learning disabilities.
They have asked SCLD to try and find out how many children with learning disabilities were sent to stay in long stay learning disability hospitals in Scotland from 1930 on.
We are going to do this by looking at the old records from the hospitals. We think it is very important to find out about what happened to people with learning disabilities in the past. We want to make sure that as many people as possible know about this. This will help us to know what should happen next. We think this is an example of good practice because it includes the voices and experiences of people with learning disabilities in an important and new area of work in Scotland. It will help to let lots of people to know about the history of people with learning disabilities.
Angela Henderson is Head of Policy and Research at the Scottish Consortium for Learning Disability.
Angela has worked at the Scottish Consortium for Learning Disability since 2009. Angela currently leads the policy and research team at SCLD and believes that research and evidence should be at the heart of policy and practice development. In this role she manages a wide portfolio of work that includes qualitative and quantitative research projects, innovative practice development programmes as well as projects that focus on developing inclusive practice across our organisation.
Angela is a passionate advocate for equality and believes that research and evidence can help us to recognise and promote for good practice and better outcomes for people with learning disabilities. Angela is currently involved in a unique research project, funded by the Scottish Government, to help identify the number of children with learning disabilities placed in institutions in Scotland.
If you woud like to get in touch with the Social History of Learning Disability (SHLD) Research Group, please contact:
Chair of the Social History of Learning Disability (SHLD) Research Group
School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care
Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies
The Open University
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